Saturday, May 3, 2014

April 29, 1864

April 29, 1864

---This evening, Gen. Frederick Steele’s Federal Army of Arkansas arrives at the Saline River, which is swollen from rains.  The bottom land close to the river is chewed rather badly by the passing of the army’s wagons and guns, and the muddy mire is nearly impassable.  Steele’s engineers quickly corduroy the road and put together their pontoon bridge across the river, and his troops begin to cross.  As the Confederates pursue, they find the roads badly chewed up by the passing of the Federals, and make poor time marching.  When they arrive at the Saline River, one staff officer describes the Saline bottoms as being “a quagmire 5 miles wide.” 

Union troops slogging through rain and mud toward Jenkins Ferry and safety

---Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, in spite of being more than annoyed at missing A.J. Smith and divisions, issues orders to Generals Schofield, McPherson, and Thomas, in order to have his forces ready to move against Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton, Georgia, by May 5.


---Due to increased Federal activity on the James Peninsula, Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard, in command at Charleston, is transferred from there to Petersburg, Virginia, with 10,000 troops, to keep an eye on Benjamin Butler and his movements.  Beauregard correctly divines that Butler’s task is to land on the Petersburg side of the James River and march with the goal of capturing the railroad from Petersburg to Richmond and advancing on the Confederate capital from the south.  Gen. George Pickett is currently in Petersburg with 2,000 men.  Beauregard orders him to report back to Lee and leave Petersburg to him.

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